CCAFS scenario-guided policy and investment planningGlobal

Background 1 2

Future scenarios can help plan for uncertain futures by integrating climate change with other drivers of change, such as levels of socio-economic development and different government regimes. Scenarios then enable policy makers to explore diverse future pathways.

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) has developed future scenarios as a tool for strategic planning with decision-makers from all over the world, incorporating both socio-economic and climate-based concerns. CCAFS has facilitated the use of these scenarios to test and develop national policies and investment plans which are robust and to provide “no-regrets” options in the face of diverse futures. Many national and regional actors have been involved, as well as key global partners. Regional scenarios were developed in a participatory fashion based on the interactions of key regional drivers. These were then quantified using two agricultural economic models: GLOBIOM, developed by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA); and IMPACT, developed by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Finally, the scenarios were linked to the latest set of global IPCC community scenarios.

These regional scenarios were used in a number of specific scenario-guided national policy processes. Each time, policy teams were positioned as the owners of these processes, along with key stakeholders who would be affected by the policy. Draft policies and implementation plans were reviewed, in detail, using down-scaled, policy-specific versions of the regional scenarios.

Relationship to CSA

A number of successful policy guidance processes have been conducted using the future scenarios approach. For instance, in Honduras, the government, together with CCAFS and other partners, used scenarios to develop an agricultural climate adaptation plan based on CSA principles. After the development of this plan, a range of community-level implementation plans were developed, based on the national plan and using the scenarios for guidance. In Cambodia, the government’s Climate Change Priorities Action Plan was developed using CSA principles in a scenario-guided process. Five other examples in CCAFS regions demonstrate how scenarios can be used to guide policy for CSA.

Impacts and lessons learned

There are some crucial elements necessary for a successful scenarios building process:

creating ownership through close collaboration between researchers and those who lead policy processes

  • timing, willingness and trust building to create transparency, and truly problem-oriented policy
  • participation of stakeholders who will be affected positively or negatively by the policy
  • ensuring that the scenarios are legitimate, credible, challenging and yet flexible enough to be re-imagined for specific policy processes


  • 1

    Schubert C. 2015. Overview of CCAFS scenario-guided policy processes. CCAFS Blog. CCAFS Blog. Copenhagen, Denmark: CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). This CCAFS blog post provides an account of how future scenarios work have helped inform climate, agriculture and development policies in seven countries.
  • 2

    Vervoort J, Thornton PK, Kristjanson P, Förch W, Ericksen P, (…), Jost C. 2014. Challenges to scenario-guided adaptive action on food security under climate change. Global Environmental Change 28:383-394. This paper examines the development and use of scenarios as an approach to guide action in multi-level, multi-actor adaptation contexts such as food security under climate change. Three challenges are highlighted: (1) ensuring the appropriate scope for action; (2) moving beyond intervention-based decision guidance; and (3) developing long-term shared capacity for strategic planning. To overcome these challenges we have applied explorative scenarios and normative back-casting with stakeholders from different sectors at the regional level in East Africa. We then applied lessons about appropriate scope, enabling adaptation pathways, and developing strategic planning capacity to scenarios processes in multiple global regions. Scenarios were created to have a broad enough scope to be relevant to diverse actors, and then adapted by different actor groups to ensure their salience in specific decision contexts. The initial strategy for using the scenarios by bringing a range of actors together to explore new collaborative proposals had limitations as well as strengths versus the application of scenarios for specific actor groups and existing decision pathways. Scenarios development and use transitioned from an intervention-based process to an embedded process characterized by continuous engagement. Feasibility and long-term sustainability could be ensured by having decision makers own the process and focusing on developing strategic planning capacity within their home organizations.

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CCAFS Climate-Smart Agriculture 101

The basics

Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is an integrative approach to address these interlinked challenges of food security and climate change, that explicitly aims for three objectives:

A. Sustainably increasing agricultural productivity, to support equitable increases in farm incomes, food security and development;

B. Adapting and building resilience of agricultural and food security systems to climate change at multiple levels; and

C. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture (including crops, livestock and fisheries).

Entry points

Agriculture affects and is affected by climate change in a wide range of ways and there are numerous entry points for initiating CSA programmes or enhancing existing activities. Productivity, mitigation and adaptation actions can take place at different technological, organizational, institutional and political levels. To help you navigate these myriad entry points we have grouped them under three Thematic Areas: (i) CSA practices, (ii) CSA systems approaches, and (iii) Enabling environments for CSA. Each entry point is then described and analysed in terms of productivity, adoption and mitigation potential and is illustrated with cases studies, references and internet links for further information.

Develop a CSA plan

Planning for, implementing and monitoring CSA projects and programmes evolves around issues of understanding the context including identification of major problems/barriers and opportunities related to the focus of the programme; developing and prioritizing solutions and designing plans; implementation; and monitoring and evaluation. Most major development agencies have their own framework for project and programme formulation and management but CCAFS has developed a specific approach for planning, implementing and assessing CSA projects and programme called CSA plan. CSA plan was developed to provide a guide for operationalizing CSA planning, implementation and monitoring at scale. CSA plan consist of four major components: (1) Situation analysis; (2) Targeting and prioritizing; (3) Program support; and (4) Monitoring. evaluation and learning.


To meet the objectives of CSA, such as agricultural development, food security and climate change adaptation and mitigation, a number of potential funding sources are available. For instance, climate finance sources may be used to leverage agriculture finance and mainstream climate change into agricultural investments. This section offers an overview of potential sources of funding for activities in climate-smart agriculture (CSA) at national, regional and international levels and for a number of different potential ‘clients’ including governments, civil society, development organizations and others. Additionally, it includes options to search among a range of funding opportunities according to CSA focus area, sector and financing instrument.

Resource library

CSA Guide provides a short and concise introduction and overview of the multifaceted aspects of climate-smart agriculture. At the same time it offers links to references and key resources that allows for further investigations and understanding of specific topics of interest. In the resource library we have gathered all the references, key resources, terms and questions in one place for a quick overview and easy access that can be used as a part of or independently of the other sections of the website. The resource library is divided into six sections; (1) References – list all publications, links and blogs referred to on the website; (2) Tools – list all the CSA tools presented on the website; (3) Key terms – explains the most important and frequently used terms related to CSA; (4) Frequently asked questions (FAQ) – provides a rapid overview of the most common questions asked on climate-smart agriculture; (5) About – where you can find out more about the purpose and structure of, as well as on the organizations and authors behind the website; (6) Contact.

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